Indiana is known as the “Hoosier State”, although nobody quite knows for certain how it got this nickname. By most accounts, it dates back to the early 19th century when contractor Sam Hoosier was tasked with building the Ohio Falls Canal at Louisville. He chose to hire the rugged men on the Indiana side of the Ohio River and his workers became known as “Hoosiers”. Just as back in the day, Indiana today is populated by rough and ready men. You kind of have to be to live in the great outdoors that embodies Indiana – a land of rolling plains, corn fields, and vast farmlands that are also scattered with deep valleys, forests, nature preserves, and reservoir lakes and highlighted by the Great Lake Michigan in the north.
Indiana has been settled for thousands of years by Native American tribes like the Miami and Shawnee who established a ceremonial culture, building mounds that can still be seen within view of the state’s highways and roads. The first Europeans to arrive were the French in the 17th century who claimed it as part of the Louisiana and New France colony. They lost it to the British after losing the Seven Years’ War in 1763, and the Americans assumed control after winning the Revolutionary War. The Native Americans were vigorously opposed to British and American rule, eventually leading to the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 and the Battle of the Thames in 1813. When the dust had settled, U.S. federal troops had burned down the Indian towns and granaries and ended Native American attempts at defending their land. Indiana was made a state in 1816.
Today, Indiana offers tourists a true outdoor paradise. With the fourth largest state park system, you’ll find a host of forests, nature preserves, and parks that provide abundant opportunities to fish, boat, hunt, ski, hike, and horseback-ride.
Attractions By Region
Indiana is effectively divided into three tourist regions: the north, central, and south. In northern Indiana, you’ll find wooded hills, the Ohio River, and several pioneer villages that still remain as they were a hundred years ago. The highlight of the north is the northwest, which is the industrial heart of Indiana. You’ll find Lake Michigan and its sandy beaches here, which serve as a playground in the summer for state residents. Especially popular is the Indiana Dunes State Park, which encompasses the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The park features natural lakeshore landmarks like the Cowles Bog, which is a hiking trail around a bog of wooded dune and marshes, the Hoosier Prairie which is a tallgrass prairie stretch of 430 acres featuring more than 570 unique plant species, and Mount Baldy, a mountain that is comprised of sand dunes. In the northeast, Indiana is filled with pristine lakes teeming with fish, as well as state parks and recreation areas where visitors can enjoy every kind of outdoor activity, including skiing, horse-back riding, and tobogganing.
The central region of Indiana, on the other hand, features vast farmlands, highlighted by the state’s largest city, Indianapolis which is literally infested with endless museums and art galleries. The south-central region is highlighted by the Hoosier National Forest. Its 200,000 acres provide back country trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horse-back riding that traverse through a beautiful forest ecosystem.
Southern Indiana features the state’s historical side, as you can visit the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City where Abraham Lincoln spent a part of childhood. In addition to the memorial and museum, there is a recreated 1820s Lincoln Living Historical Farm.